By Isiah REYES
Spectators of all ages enjoyed watching helicopter aerial maneuvers as well as getting up close and personal to the machines that performed them during the American Heroes Air Show at the Hansen Dam Recreation and Sports Complex on June 21.
The air show was co-presented by Disney. The studio’s new movie “Planes: Fire and Rescue” is dedicated to firefighters around the world for the work they do. The film’s director Roberts Gannaway and producer Ferrell Barron were on hand to discuss their collaboration with aerobatic helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron.
“Chuck Aaron does amazing things with a helicopter, unbelievable things,” Barron said. “He acted as a consultant on the film. He even gave us a little ride once when we were researching the film. There’s nothing like doing a barrel roll in a helicopter to wake you up in the morning.”
The story takes place in Piston Peak National Park, a fictional park heavily based on Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks.
“We worked with the folks at Yellowstone and their structural fire engines there,” Gannaway said. “We consulted with their firefighters and their air attack, so when you see the film I think you’ll recognize a little bit of Yellowstone and Yosemite.”
They worked with over 100 consultants and experts to make sure there was truth and reality to the storytelling. Ultimately the movie is about teamwork and second chances, due out on July 18.
The main attraction of the air show was when Aaron took to the skies and dazzled the crowd with aerial back flips and spiral maneuvers. There were also flyovers and tactical demonstrations, such as a precision water drop display that used red and blue colored water, much to the delight of the crowd.
Guests also had fun with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities tied to the Disney film including “Smoke Jumpers Supply Drop,” which had children of all ages helping fight a forest fire. In a separate field, more than 20 helicopters were in static display for everyone to see. People had the rare opportunity to talk to the pilots who fly them.
Military and law enforcement displayed the equipment they use and showed people what the inside of a fire truck looks like. In addition, many booths were set up to provide information to the community on a range of topics, such as homeland security and safety.
With live local entertainment, concessions, and public safety and emergency preparedness displays, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
The American Heroes Air Show attracts more than 150,000 spectators nationwide. Some of the sponsors include the Museum of Flight, the Helicopter Association International, and the Airborne Law Enforcement Association.
Established in Los Angeles in 1992, the admission-free show began as a grass-roots community effort to celebrate the dynamic role of helicopters in law enforcement, fire service, search and rescue, homeland security, communications and national defense. Today, this non-profit event is offered in several major U.S. cities.
The event is free and held every year.